According to the NHS, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the UK.
It is associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries and an increased risk of blood clots and damage to arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys, and eyes.
CVD can often be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle and saying no to some bad habits.
There are no guarantees that this method will help keep heart disease away completely, but it will lower the risk and improve your health in many other ways.
Some risk factors are related to others. So, making changes in one area can help in others too.
- High blood pressure
High blood pressure is one of the most critical risk factors for Cardiovascular Disease. Higher than average blood pressure can damage our blood vessels. Over time, if it is not treated, the heart may become abnormally large, and its pumping action will be less effective, which could lead to heart failure. If you have been diagnosed with CVD, you should regularly check your blood pressure and control it with prescribed medication and a healthy routine.
Smoking and other tobacco use is also a significant risk factor for Cardiovascular Disease. The harmful substances in tobacco can damage and narrow your blood vessels, damage arteries, force your heart to work harder and make blood more likely to clot. If you are a smoker, giving up is the biggest thing you can do to help your heart and drop the risk level.
- High cholesterol
Increased cholesterol levels can also bring a chance of having Cardiovascular Disease. Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood. A diet low in saturated and trans fats, sugars and fast foods will help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your chance of having heart disease. Regular exercise will also help regulate cholesterol levels. High cholesterol, just the same as smoking, can cause your blood vessels to narrow and increase your risk of developing a blood clot.
- Being overweight or obese
Being overweight or obese increases the chance of developing diabetes and high blood pressure, and CVD. The easiest way to figure out whether you are overweight or obese can be by checking your body mass index (BMI). Usually, a BMI of 25 or above means you may be overweight. A BMI of 30 or above is classified as obese. There are many ways to avoid obesity and act after it has been discovered. To find out more about prevention options, click here.
- Diet and Nutrition
It is easy to slip into some unhealthy eating habits. Refresh your eating habits by consuming fibre-rich whole grains, fish (preferably oily fish at least twice per week), nuts, legumes and seeds. It’s also strongly recommended to eat more fruits and vegetables and avoid meals with meat occasionally. According to the NHS, people who eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day have a lower risk of heart disease.
Reducing the number of calories in your diet might help you lose weight, but maintaining a healthy weight requires physical activity to burn energy. A lack of regular exercise is likely to cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and you to become overweight. All three points mentioned before are the most dangerous risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Exercising regularly will help keep your heart healthy. When combined with a healthy diet, exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight.
Drinking more than the guidelines regularly and over a long period can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Drinking too much alcohol can raise the levels of some fats in the blood, known as triglycerides.
A high triglyceride level combined with high LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol has been associated with a fatty build-up in the artery walls. This can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.